Back when I was an undergrad (and J Paul Getty was a living miser, instead of a dead philanthropist) my art school classmates and I would attend the Malibu Getty's Thursday evening lecture series. Some visiting scolar would wax about their current interest, and afterwards a floor of the museum would be open to the small crowd, and a wine and snacks (dinner for starving artists) would be served.
One of my favorite nights--feeding my fetish for the obscure and esoteric--was entitled, "Warts, Wrens, Moles, and Carbuncles: The Skin Blemish as a Sign of Infamy in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Art." How could I ever forget a title like that?
In the spirit of enticing college kids to look at art by offering free food, the Getty Villa in Malibu is hosting a night for college students on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.
More on the point of this post: if art institutions are in the business of supporting the the arts, shouldn't they be encouraging new, younger audiences and the next generation of artists by letting them in free all the time? Generally speaking, todays poor college students will be tomorrow's museum members, donors, patrons and trustees. Why not cultivate and encourage their interest by letting them in for free when they can least afford it? Take a clue from the music industry. Kids don't buy a tune or a concert ticket until they've heard it first for free. Or take a clue from drug pushers, who give away the first hit of herion. In the cacophony of creative media, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to cultivate other interests that will develop into a lifetime of expenditures, by creating financial hurdles for young audiences, museums are then forced to stoop and pander and offer shows of motorcycles, video game screen pulls, and celebrity-photographs-as-art (both of and by).
Both LACMA (which charges ten bucks to students) and MOCA (which charges five) should follow the Hammer's lead, and offer free admissions to students with ID. And in the same spirit, the Getty should offer free parking (instead of fifteen bucks) for students. I can't imagine that the Getty's, LACMA's or MOCA's budget hangs in the balance by the few bucks they wring from college kids.